Donald Trump believes he knows the real reason for the deadly California wildfires — too many unraked leaves.
Trump claimed on Saturday that Finland doesn’t have the same problem with forest fires as the United States because they “spend a lot of time on raking” leaves, continuing his persistent claim that stray leaves are a main contributor to the fires. The president spent the day surveying damage from a pair of wildfires raging across California. The Camp Fire, which has claimed more than 60 lives and left more than 1,000 people unaccounted for, has now become the deadliest wildfire in a century, Newsweek reported.
In a press conference during his visit, Donald Trump compared Northern California to Finland, which he said didn’t have the same problem with wildfires because they take the time to rake leaves in the forest.
“You’ve got to take care of the floors. You know the floors of the forest, very important. You look at other countries where they do it differently and it’s a whole different story,” Trump said.
“I was with the president of Finland and he said, ‘We have a much different—we’re a forest nation.’ He called it a forest nation, and they spent a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things.”
The statement drew backlash and earned some mockery for Trump, especially for his use of the word “floor” to describe the ground.
It's called the ground.
"You gotta take care of the floors. You know the floors of the forest, very important. I was with the President of Finland…they spent a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things and they don't have any problem." pic.twitter.com/Mn6nmcoXiP
— Holly Figueroa O'Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan) November 17, 2018
The claim was a repeat of a statement Trump made the day before when he told Chris Wallace of Fox News that the wildfires are the result of poor forest management, pointing specifically to raking leaves. As Deadline noted, Trump claimed he saw firefighters raking leaves in the forest ahead of the fire and said that the fire could have been slowed if someone had thought to rake them earlier. When Wallace asked if he believed that global warming played a role, Trump reiterated that it was forest management — and not raking leaves — playing a bigger part.
When asked if the visit to California changed his mind about global warming — which Trump had repeatedly called a hoax in the past — the president said it did not.
We will NEVER forget that as our fellow Californians were being cremated instantly in their cars while fleeing these fires Trump said its our own fault and he’s going to cut our funding, and all because we didn’t vote for him. A thousand are still missing. https://t.co/2BsU0Kp6Ea
— Reza Aslan (@rezaaslan) November 17, 2018
While experts have said that forest management was one factor in the wildfires, they said that global warming plays a major role in rising temperatures and allowing fires to grow larger. They also noted that both of the California wildfires originated in grassy areas of the state on privately owned land, not forests as Donald Trump claimed.